Hokkaido may not have Tokyo’s fascinating blend of modernity and tradition or Kyoto’s cultural depth, nor can it compete with the bright lights of Osaka or the beautifully preserved gardens in Kanazawa. But it has so much else to offer. It is one of my favourite destinations in the world. This may also be because Hokkaido was the first place I visited in the land of the rising sun. A case of love at first sight perhaps?
Four years ago, I started documenting the highlights of my first trip to Hokkaido which had taken place the previous year. The inaugural post in the series, “12 days of summer in Hokkaido“, has consistently received the most views on my website over this period of time. This is in spite of it not having a show-stopping photo as its main image; instead the featured picture is a screenshot of the Google Map that I had created for the trip.
As I re-read the original article, I am reminded of why I had persisted in documenting my experiences in Hokkaido:
While researching online, a few names always came up in the forums, offering advice about what to do in Hokkaido and getting around the island. I told myself that I shall consolidate all the intel that I gathered for this trip and document them here so that someone else could benefit from this pool of knowledge.
Happy to say, this collection of posts about the self-driving trip with my family has been helpful to people who were planning to visit Hokkaido. It did take me much longer than I had expected to write it all up and to edit the photos. But better late than never!
Click on the link to view an updated version of the original Google Map that I put together for this trip.
Below are the highlights from this trip, in chronological order, which I have also incorporated into the original “12 days of summer in Hokkaido” post over the past years:
- Summer flowers abloom in Furano, Biei and Hokuryu // 富良野, 美瑛 & 北竜
- Alpine walk at Mount Asahi in Daisetsuzan National Park // 旭岳, 大雪山国立公園
- Hiking at Mt. Furano in Daisetsuzan National Park and enjoying the onsen afterwards // 富良野岳
- Slurping noodles at Asahikawa Ramen Village // 旭川
- Cow spotting in the tranquil Cape Notoro // 能取岬
- The best crab that we’ve ever eaten was at Oyaji Crabs in Abashiri // 網走市
- Fresh seafood breakfast at Abashiri Kando Morning Market // 網走市
- Exploring “the end of the Earth” at Shiretoko Peninsula, a UNESCO World Heritage Site // 知床
- Peace and quiet in the tiny town of Rausu on Shiretoko // 羅臼
- Hiking through swampy land to get to Rausu Lake // 羅臼湖
- Lake-hopping in Akan National Park
- Savouring delicious grilled pork in Obihiro // 帯広市
- Summertime dance and automated car parks in Sapporo // 札幌
- Delicious sushi and dental drama at Otaru // 小樽市
- Sampling Japanese whiskies at Nikka Whisky distillery in Yoichi // 余市蒸溜所
- Breathtaking coastal views at Shakotan Peninsula // 積丹半島
- Fruit-picking at Sobetsu Fruit Farm near Lake Toya // 洞爺湖
- Winding down with onsens and endless lake views in Shikotsu-Toya National Park // 支笏洞爺国立公園
I hope that these articles will continue to inspire someone to discover the low-key charm of Hokkaido, its remarkable natural landscape and the wonderfully fresh seafood that it has to offer, and, ultimately, to see another side of Japan.
4 replies on “Looking back at 12 days of summer in Hokkaido // 北海道”
Thanks for all your Hokkaido posts! I am going with my family Aug 3-13th and have really enjoyed reading about your Hokkaido adventures. I was lured in by your Oyaji crab post but then ended up reading just about all your Hokkaido related posts. A few questions: Is there a reason you didn’t have Hakodate on your itinerary? Is Abashiri the best place to get crab in Hokkaido or are there other options that are closer to Sapporo? Does the Sapporo Summer Festival take place every day or only on weekends? From your pictures, Hokkaido looks really cold even in the middle of summer. Are there certain parts of Hokkaido that are colder than others?
Hi Craig, I’m happy that you enjoyed my posts on Hokkaido. Sorry for the belated reply! Here’s answering your questions:
1. We didn’t go to Hakodate as I didn’t want to go to a big city and preferred to visit smaller towns and cities in Hokkaido.
2. The crab that we had at Abashiri was wonderful. I’m sure you can get delicious and fresh crab from just about anywhere in Hokkaido as there are fishing ports around the island!
3. The Sapporo Summer Festival goes on for an entire month. This year, it’s from July 20–August 17, 2017.
4. The northern end of Hokkaido is at a similar latitude as Harbin, so some parts of the island (it’s a huge island) can get cool at night and you might need a light jacket. Also, the temperature is lower at higher altitudes, so if you’re in the mountains at night, it’s always handy to have a scarf or jacket.
I hope you and your family will enjoy yourselves in Hokkaido. Bon voyage!
Thanks for your help Angelina! We have cut Hakodate from the itinerary as well because it is a bit far from everything else. I am happy to hear we can enjoy great crab almost anywhere in Hokkaido–I will probably try my luck at Otaru since it is close to Sapporo one of our primary bases. We will pack light jackets for the different climates.
Happy to be of help Craig 🙂 I reckon you’ll only need the light jackets for the evening if you’re going to be in the mountains this time of the year. Have fun in Hokkaido!